John's Musings

Yeah, Me Neither

Emby vs. Plex

It's been a while since I talked about media servers. Every mythical "power user" should have a NAS (Network Attached Storage). And on that powerful file serving NAS you should be running a media server to control all that music and all those videos. There are lots of choices, however I've narrowed my choices down to two go to media servers. Emby and Plex.

Now this is not an all encompassing review of every cool power user feature for a media server. This is a review of how I use a media server. Here's a quick rundown of some features I like and don't like. Lets start with Emby. Here's my home screen with Emby.

First of all Emby installs perfectly, and easily on FREENAS which is the NAS operating system I use. On the left you'll notice the blue square which says "Live TV". Emby does live TV but you need a TV tuner and the amount of tuners that work are limited. When I started using Emby you could only really use HDHomeRun devices. Not sure if they've expanded that or not. In this day and age of cord cutting I put a powered antenna with a high gain amplifier in the attic. I pull down all the local channels in HD for free. With Emby and my HDHomeRun Connect device (you gotta get one of these things) you can not only watch Live Tv but you can watch it across your network on any device. Also I VPN into my network when I'm on travel and I can watch it (if the internet connection is fast enough where I am).

It will segregate your movies and TV shows and the metadata and clip art it pulls down is perfect. With Live TV though to get a decent Electronic Program Guide (EPG) you need to buy a subscription but it is AWESOME and worth it to me. Even pulls the station graphics down nicely. You can click on any show below and just record it. Just like a Tivo. A very inexpensive DVR and besides, your NAS has tons of storage, right? Mine does.

So that's my key feature I use Emby for. Yeah it's nice to rip DVD's of Movies and TV shows but the Live Tv is a KILLER feature. I used to have no TV in my bedroom but now I do. Any device with a browser is now a TV.

Now, onto Plex. Plex does some of the same stuff Emby does and to be honest the interface is pretty slick and pretty. However I have one problem with Plex. While it kinda does Live TV it only does it on devices like Android, IOS, or Apple TV. Not on any device or laptop. Also you need an app to watch. Don't get me wrong, Emby has apps that do similar but you can still WATCH LIVE TV ON ANYTHING. Plex, not so much.

Plex puts the movies and TV shows on the Home page like Emby does and it is fairly similar in that respect however the Program Guide, which is FREE (Yeah) It sucks ass. Oh, it looks okay, right up the point where you try to use and it and to see what is on TV several hours from now. Plex needs help here.'s free. I can overlook a lot of stuff for free.

Plex does the same thing with a DVR device and in fact the latest beta of Plex has included lots and lots of popular TV tuner devices. It finds and uses my HDHomeRun Connect as well.

Plex DOES NOT install well on FREENAS, at least not for me and I always have to do a manual install inside of a BSD Jail. If you don't know what that means......consider yourself lucky. I will say that I also run another server at home on Ubuntu Linux and it also runs Emby and Plex (as a backup in case the NAS goes down). Plex installs PERFECTLY on Linux.

Also when I record on Plex from FREENAS I have to record inside the jail and not outside. Again, if you don't know what that means it translates into this:

It's a Pain In My Ass. I'm sure it is a permissions thing but I'm pretty good with Linux and I haven't figured it out yet. Still I have some work arounds. And once again if I install Plex on my Ubuntu server I have no such issues. I can record anywhere. Why this is important is that I can have one drive somewhere with all the data on it and access it from all media servers so I don't have the same data is several different places.

For John Hagensieker and John Hagensieker alone it's Emby all the way for me. The usability of the Live TV pushes it over the top for me even though Plex has some other cool tricks I didn't mention (namely channels).

Emby. Emby. Get Emby if you want a good intuitive media server that works everywhere.

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